Summertime and the livin’ is easy……….
Or so the song goes. Not for all of us though or at least not all the time, for some, the increased temperature plays havoc with our Zen. We get hot and bothered, our temper gets shorter, our skin breaks out with spots or rashes, we suffer from more headaches and irritability generally, our allergies and/or existing skin conditions like psoriasis flare up, we sweat profusely. These are all signs of increased Pitta. We can all be affected at times. If you pay close attention to yourself and those around you, you will be able to recognise the increased heat.
I witnessed a classic example this morning whilst dropping my daughter off at Kindergarten. Road Rage! Short temper and impatience. The car in front didn’t indicate before turning left into his garage. Annoying for sure, but the reaction from the driver in the car behind was perhaps a little disproportionate you might say. Hanging out his window screaming at the top of his voice at the other driver ‘Hast du keinen Blinker oder was…?’ Bist du bescheuert oder was?!‘ (‘Have you no indicators or what? Are you stupid or what??!! )’ ……I mean really wound up, and angry, slowing his own car down, completely oblivious to the danger and irritation that poses to the cars behind, simply to scream at the car who turned! It was only 8.30am, the day had not yet heated up, but the temperatures have been higher generally so the Pitta is there in the air, in us.
Of course it doesn’t need to be Summertime for people to be angry and irritable and for there to be road rage but as these emotions or qualities are the result of excess heat in the body, they can be exacerbated during the hot Summer months. If you are prone to those things anyway with a Pitta predominant constitution, you are more likely to be adversely affected by the Summer heat.
What do I mean by Pitta predominant constitution? Read on beautiful souls!!
“Vata, Pitta and kapha move in the whole body producing good or ill effects upon the entire system according to their normal or provoked states. Their normal state is Prakriti and their abnormal state is Vikriti”
– Caraka Samhita Sutrasthana 17.62 (ancient Ayurvedic text)
As I have mentioned before (see my post Ayur what??) Ayurveda tells us that nothing in this world is considered separate from anything else, we are all one. One yet uniquely individual. All living things are made up of the 5 great elements, Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth but the proportions of each in each of us is entirely unique.
The Doshas are not physical entities, but rather subtle by-products of the cosmic evolution of the 5 great elements. You cannot see them. You can only know them through inference as they manifest through the products of disease; such as phlegm, swellings, inflammation, bleeding, nervous imbalance, headaches, sinus congestion, lack of energy or dry skin. In perfect health they remain blissfully out of sight. Let’s face it though, most of us are not walking around in perfect harmonious balance with nature all of the time. The large majority of us suffer on and off with various ailments or aches and pains if not with a particular chronic or acute illness or disease.
There are three doshas, namely, Vata, Pitta and Kapha;
- Vata is comprised of space and air, more or less 50:50
- Pitta is comprised of fire and water, let’s say approximately 90:10; and
- Kapha is comprised of water and earth again about 50:50.
hmmmm interesting you say, but what do I do with that information? This is all very academic but what does that tell me about me? How does that teach me to better understand my own inner nature and thereby maintain my own balance?
I hear ya…….
DISCOVER YOUR BODY CONSTITUTION
So before we go any further, let’s look at trying to identify your individual body constitutions because that is a fundamental concept in Ayurveda, it being, as I mentioned before, a personalised holistic healing system. One size does not fit all.
We are interested in two categories here:
Firstly your Prakriti. Your Prakriti is your natural balance of the elements, what you are born with, your inherited traits or characteristics in their natural balanced state.
The second is your Vrikriti, what you are today, your imbalance so to speak.
Although the best way to ascertain your Prakriti and Vikriti is to have your pulse read by an Ayurvedic Practitioner, the below questionnaire from the Ayurvedic Institute website will give you a bit of an insight. Follow the instructions on the form filing it out twice as directed.
So now that we all have an idea of our Prakriti and Vikriti how can we use that to maintain our health, and what does it being Summer time and therefore Pitta season have to do with any of it?
Well, as I mentioned in my post AYUR WHAT???, Ayurveda is a wisdom that is expressed as a way of life that flows with the changes of the seasons, weather, time, and place. Each having an influence on us. As Pitta is predominantly comprised of fire, it makes sense that this is increased in the Summertime. It may of course be that you don’t have much Pitta in you, and an increase of heat is just what the doctor ordered but we all suffer from time to time with excess heat and as I said above, if you are prone to Pitta excess in any event this may be exacerbated in the Summer.
So let’s get down to the good stuff, how does this excess heat manifest in us so that we can learn to recognise it and most importantly what can we do to pacify it?
THE FIVE STEP APPROACH
Ayurveda takes a 5 step approach to treating disease or indeed to maintaining your health, which are tailored to your particular presenting complaint and/or Prakriti and Vikriti. These five steps are as follows:
- Lifestyle, daily routine
- Manual Treatments like massage
Which foods you should favour and which you should avoid, or which yoga style or the asana’s you should avoid and favour and equally which herbs you should take and which manual treatments are recommended will depend on your individual presentation at any given time and your natural body constitution.
There are for example certain foods that will increase Pitta and others that will pacify it.
If you are experiencing signs of excess heat in the body like those mentioned above or are generally interested in finding out more about how to recognise excess Pitta and how to apply the 5 step approach to pacify it, then stay tuned for my next post later today or tomorrow. I will be looking at all this in more detail with practical hints and tips which you can use in your daily lives to improve and/or maintain your health.
Until the next time beautiful souls………